Author has written 14 stories for Bible, and Harry Potter.
Note from the owner of this blog: I'm not all that interesting, in my opinion, just a eighteen year old girl from the USA who likes writing. My first Fanfiction, to be honest, sucked. Yet in two years I've learned a lot about writing, and am proud to say I've improved greatly since then. So check out some of my things if you have the time, and I'll be sure to send over a thank you ASAP. Oh, and if any of you are looking for advice, I have writing tips below. ;)
A message I would like to give to the Fanfiction world: Please review the stories that you read.
It makes the writer feel like his or her work is being acknowledge instead of being glanced at and then trashed away. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to spare a couple of honest words. If you don't like it, be upfront because everyone wants to improve and I guess we all here are budding writers. So please, I beg you. It doesn't take much of anyone's time.
"Words are, in my not so humble opinion,
our most inexhaustible source of magic-
capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it."
- Albus Dumbledore
"Ten tips to writing a better Fanfiction...or improved writing overall."
1. You know how some writers claim to have a little voice in their head? If you ever hear that little voice…listen. I know this may sound a tad crazy, but trust me, it's worth paying attention to. I remember a wkhile back I heard it telling me to pick up my pen and notebook and start writing. Needless to say, I listened to it like the good little writing addict that I am. The story I happened to have been working on I hadn't written for in weeks. Everything I tried looked wrong, but as soon as that little voice piped up I knew I was about to get something good. Low and behold I did! Soon as pen hit paper I started writing like a maniac. So, if you hear that little guy, trust it, don’t hit ignore.
2. Okay, número two. This is a mistake people make a constantly. After you get done with a chapter, DO NOT IMMEDIATELY POST! I will repeat:
DO NOT POST HOT OFF THE PRESS STORIES!!!
If you want it to be good it can't end at just writing it out. Edit. I don't care if you already have a beta or if you don’t. Go back, read it thirty times if need be, and make changes that come into your mind.
I have literally printed out five different versions of my first Founders Four chapter, writing changes all over it: front, back, and everywhere else. Don’t post until you are as satisfied as can be with your writing. (even though you'll never be fully okay with it.). True, many readers will be turned off if you take a month to update, but the ones who will stick with you are the ones most worth having. The first time is only a rough draft. Go in, add detail, add color, change words around, take things away and add new things, and just go wild with it! Perfection cannot and will not be rushed.
Remember, no one likes reading countless mistakes. No matter how good the plot or storyline may be if they spot ten errors within the first paragraph chances are they'll click the back button without a second thought. Also: Make sure your summary doesn't have errors! Chances are if it's in the summary people will assume the same for your fanfic!
That being said about your summary, do NOT write this: "Not good at summaries, just read!" or "Don't like, stay away!" or something else like "Please read and review! First time and I need encouragement!” People get put off very quickly by that kind of thing so make sure your summary stays relevant to your piece of writing. Back to the checking stuff, make sure the piece flows and the writing doesn't sound too awkward or choppy when you read it aloud. Don't just focus on spelling either, but also grammar, sentence structure, wording, etc. Make sure not to use except for accept or to instead of too or principal instead of principle...well, you get the idea. This is a BIG turn off for some people...well, most people. Remember, it's always the tiny things that make or break a story.
3. After you go over it, have someone else go over it with you. You're the writer, which means that story is your baby. No one wants to admit faults with something they've worked so hard on, after all. Constructive criticism will make you angry, and that will almost always be true to some degree no matter how many times you hear it.
(Now, imagine angry fanfictioners chasing me with torches and pitchforks right about here.)
"What right do you have saying this about my work? I know what I’m doing because I’m the writer, I know best, and no one is going to tell me different!"
That, my friend, is the problem with many Fanfic writers. We're natural egotists, no denying it. Yet, sometimes we need that harsh sounding comment to show us just what we may have missed. The best way I can think of to say this is that sometimes you tend to see more when you’re on the outside looking in than the inside looking out. Don't just take the gushers, the one line reviews that tell you how great it is, because the ones you should look for are the ones who point out the good and the bad, not just one or the other. Of course, flames are a whole different story. If you get those, don't fret. Just pop yourself open a bag of virtual marshmallows and have yourself a merry little fanfiction bonfire!
I got to say, on my first fanfic I got a review that had me steaming! It was three pages of review on what I was doing wrong, or at least that's how it seemed to me at the time. I got mad, I sent angry PMs, and I made a complete and total fool of myself just to later realize that reviewer was 100% right. If it wasn't for that one review I never would have pushed myself so hard to prove her wrong, I never would have spent those countless hours on my computer editing over and over and over again, and my writing probably would have sucked compared to what it is now, and I never would have gotten as far as I have with a simple “Great job! Update soon please!” that many people, though I still loved very much, give.
4. Read, constantly! Examine other people’s styles, look up the stories with the most reviews and see what makes them so popular, and then examine what people say about it in reviews.
"Why is it they like it so much? Is it because it’s an original idea? Does it draw them into the story? Is it the way they word things out" These are the questions you need to be asking.
Now, try and adapt, but don’t copy. You need to be flexible. You need to be able to think outside the box. Most of all, you need to make it all your own. Another mistake many people make is trying to use someone else’s style instead of just writing what comes to them. That's not you, it won't feel natural, and it won't be your writing anymore. People can tell when you're forcing it, so just write what you feel instead of what you think works for others, because you're not others. Improve, but still keep it you. You can learn from how others do things, learn and add, but at the end of it all they're them and you're you.
5. Do writing exercises. Ask a friend to tell you about a scene, a scenario, a character, and then try to picture it all in your head. Once you have it, start to write it. Paint a picture with your words! A lot of people say writing isn’t an art, not like painting or sculpting or any of that. But it is, just as much as the rest of those things. People try to say that anyone can write with enough practice, but while you can learn to write, it's not the same. Art comes from the heart, not from an instruction manual.
Writing is something you can learn to do, but it takes a certain person to make that writing come alive, to leap off the page, to draw you into the words. It’s something that becomes a part of you. It's an obsession, and it's an impulse. It's writing.
The best writers can make you feel like you’re inside the story. They make you look at the world differently, see things you've never noticed, and they do things with words that are stunning. Many people say they could write a book anytime they want, but then why haven't they started writing yet? It’s a passion, not a hobby. Yes, it is something we do in our free time, yes it isn't a job, but to the best writers, the ones who truly feel and love what they do, that doesn’t matter. Who cares if it is going to be published as a Fanfiction or as a serious novel? It doesn’t matter if it's just a scene or a full out masterpiece. That's what all of us should be doing, practice doing whatever it takes to keep going. Do those exercises and keep your imagination going on hyper speed! I’ll give you an example:
“Lightning rips across the sky, illuminating the darkness in a blinding white flash and revealing the intimidating figure of the Azkaban. It dominats the backdrop, dementors soaring like eerie shadows overhead.
A grim-like hound stands silent and still, perched at the tip of Azkaban’s cold gray cliffs as a rolling wave smashes against the rocks below, sending up waves of gray foam as sheets of needle like rain pounds down from the stormy sky. This is the spot he must make his choice. Azkaban or the sea, living death or the small chance of freedom, to stay in a cell with nothing or to take risk for everything. Here he must chose, and here he must decide..."
Now, try to do that with random scenes. Try it with kid sitting alone in a crowded lunchroom, a stormy sea at night, a peaceful meadow, or anything really. The only limit is your imagination.
6. Whatever fandom you are writing for should be known by heart. Know the rules of the world you are playing in. Know the characters, the events, the history, and whatever else you can find. Get on Microsoft word or whatever else you have and make yourself a guild filled with anything you can find on the books or show or whatever it is you are writing for. Don't just guess, but do research! I have about twenty pages of research that I've done on the Harry Potter books. That was a lot of work and time, but it has definitely been worth the effort.
In other words, don’t work on a fic if you don’t know anything about what it is you're writing. If you know a lot about one book, don't write about another one you read five years ago which you'll be lucky to even remember the plot line of. Stick to what you know while still staying flexible about it. There are so many mini categories under the major ones. Get to know the characters you are working with, get inside their heads, get to know them almost as well as your best friend, and then you can use them and make your tale believable.
7. Make some connections with people. Read other's stories and review on them. Start a PM convo, get some contacts, because people who get to know you will be more likely to review or spread the word about your story. (I don't mean just use them to get reviewers though, because that would considered manipulation.)
Remember: More reviews=more feedback and suggestions=more you can learn to improve. (Which is why you should also return the favor.) Fanficiton.net technically is a social site, after all. Be nice to others and they will be to you. Like the saying goes (cliche but true none the less) "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." No clue why you'd want to catch flies, but hey, if it gets feedback go for it! Just don't get your keyboard too sticky. ;)
8. Almost done. So are you still with me here? Okay, number eight! Try to post on more than one site. Different sites naturally have different audiences. For example, some of them are harder to get reviews on then others, so if you get reviews on that site you know you're probably doing pretty well. Though you should definitely get to know the site you are posting on first. Remember, always use your resources.
10. Use humor! Don't do a three page A/N, but add questions and humor at the end. Some people may not like it but many do, and the ones that don't can just skip over it all. Plus, I for one really like reading it.
(Note: Feel free to put this on your profile page. The more people who see it the better. Just make sure you site where you got it!)
Extra Tip 11: Pay attention to detail! If you noticed, I skipped 9.
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